SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) — New modeling data indicates the vaccine is dramatically reducing the number of new COVID-19 cases in New Mexico. Meanwhile, only a handful of the state’s counties are getting the newest Johnson & Johnson vaccine, so far.
In a virtual news conference Wednesday, state health experts further detailed the rollout of the more than 17,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine New Mexico received this week. Only eight counties received shipments of the third available vaccine and the state says more shipments are likely weeks out from arriving.
“We did get 17,200 doses this week, we’ve been informed that we will not get doses for the next couple of weeks,” said NM Department of Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins said Wednesday. “They’re working on production, so we should know more by the end of March as to the exact number we’re going to start seeing moving forward from Johnson and Johnson.”
The eight counties to receive the J&J vaccine include Bernalillo, Dona Ana, Santa Fe, Rio Arriba, Valencia, Eddy, Otero, and Luna. The New Mexico Department of Health says the eight counties were chosen for the single-dose vaccine because they were among the ten counties with the lowest vaccination coverage statewide. NMDOH says those counties were also “ready to receive” the vaccine.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said they believe 25% of vaccines will go to underserved areas through mobile clinics.
The state is also now reporting a much larger positive effect on reducing new COVID-19 cases. According to modeling data from Los Alamos National Laboratories, New Mexico is seeing an estimated 50% drop in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases because of the vaccine.
As of Wednesday, more than 389,000 primary doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in New Mexico according to DOH’s online vaccine dashboard. More than 219,000 booster doses have been administered.
The state is also now dealing with the new federal push to get teachers vaccinated immediately. On Tuesday, President Biden said he would “use the full authority of the federal government” to push all states toward vaccinating teachers and educators.
As of Wednesday, NMDOH said 14,000 New Mexico teachers and education staff have been vaccinated. In data provided to KRQE News 13, the Public Education Department says there are nearly 50,000 people working in New Mexico schools.
“The goal is March, to have them all vaccinated in March,” Dr. Collins said. “So working with them this week, ‘them’ being the President and the office to figure out about doses and how we roll this out, so the directive is to complete the vaccination of teachers during the month of March.”
In a written statement, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham addressed the new directive during Wednesday’s news conference. The Governor suggested in part that New Mexico would lean on the federal government to get more vaccine supply in order to meet the teacher vaccination directive while focusing on continued efforts to vaccinate the elderly and the most vulnerable.
The state hasn’t yet made a formal commitment toward any changes to its current vaccine rollout strategy. New Mexico also received its largest shipment of vaccines this week from Pfizer and Moderna, receiving more than 80,000 doses combined. New Mexico is expecting another increase of up to nearly 88,000 shots of those two vaccines next week.